Saturday, April 04, 2020

Thunder Road

For once, I am the one behind the wheel and the radio is playing Springsteen as I take the boys on a slightly less adventurous road movie down to the recycling station.

Afterwards, as I cross the bridge to the nowadays nearly dormant airport, Jon’s question of how I can still support the Swedish “Sonderweg” lingers. I am no epidemiologist and, to be honest, it was maybe all just wishful thinking that we could deal with the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic simply by isolating the old and the vulnerable while everyone else quickly acquired immunity. Over the last days, especially the impossibility of keeping nursing homes separated from the rest of society has dawned on me and maybe also the Swedish government as they have now asked parliament for vast new executive powers.

Even among those who are healthy and 70+, old habits are difficult to change. When asking my own parents about why they did not do their shopping online I was told that one of their neighbours used to get the some of her groceries wrong, which was apparently bad enough to warrant the risk of going shopping yourself during a deadly pandemic. At some point, voluntary behavioural change will of course happen, the question is just how overloaded the hospital system will be by then. In a way it is a bit like with climate change, that once the climate system really becomes dangerously destabilized, more people will realize the futility of renewable energy and recognize the need for large-scale carbon removal technologies powered by high-energy sources, it is just uncertain if we will then the socio-economic capacity to, say, build hundreds of new reactors...

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